Caitlin Ginley, of the Center for Public Integrity, used data from the National Institute on Money in State Politics to demonstrate that the state officials who have joined forces to file a lawsuit challenging American health care reform have, together, received more than $5 million in campaign contributions from hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, doctors and insurers. Among the governors and attorneys general in the 20 states supporting the suit, a few stood out.
… the Center found that top recipients of industry money include Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who has received more than $1 million from health care professionals since 1996, and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue, who took in at least $970,163 from the industry starting in 1992, when he was a state senator, until he left the governor’s office this week. Other major recipients involved in the lawsuit include former Pennsylvania Attorney General and newly-elected Governor Tom Corbett, who has received about $830,000, and Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, with more than $770,000.
Ginley provides details on the donations each of those officials received, as well as several others. No word on how this compares to other samples of 40 high profile state politicians. Physician groups and private doctors played a major role in many of the cases she examined.
Politico’s Jennifer Haberkorn reports that, by cutting a deal in which customers will have to return more of their excess insurance subsidies after purchasing coverage on exchanges (beginning in 2014), legislators have found the money to prevent a scheduled cut in Medicare reimbursement rates. The reimbursement rate cuts, much opposed by physician groups, have been extended on a regular basis for some time now. The initial cuts had been designed to reduce government health spending. For more on covering the extensions and cuts, see AHCJ’s tip sheet.
For more on this specific deal, here’s Politico’s Haberkorn again:
Under the health care reform law, if a person gets more of a tax subsidy than they’re eligible for, they’d have to repay no more than $250. Families would have to repay no more than $450.
The deal on the table would raise those caps on a sliding scale based on income. The figures haven’t been finalized yet.
The changes would free up about $19.2 billion to cover the one-year Medicare patch, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates.
The changes would impact about 200,000 people, according to a Congressional aide familiar with the estimates.
Progressive Democrats are expected to push back, Haberkorn writes. For more on the political machinations, head on over to Politico.
According to Sorrel, students are leaving medical school with debt loads that sometimes top $200,000, burdens which some sources said push students away from longer residencies or lower-paying, underserved specializations and locations.
Delegates at the 2009 meeting called for innovative new measures, including “shortening the length of training for combined residency or dual-degree programs, easing loan repayment obligations and ensuring equitable tuition increases.”
Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.
CNN will live stream President Obama’s speech to the American Medical Association at 12:15 p.m. ET. To see it, visit the CNN site, then click “live video” and then select the video labeled “Obama speaks to American Medical Assoc.”
Scott Hensley runs NPR's online health channel, Shots. Previously he was the founding editor of The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog and covered the drug industry and the Human Genome Project for the Journal. Hensley serves on AHCJ's board of directors. You can follow him at @ScottHensley.
Next week President Obama will become the first commander in chief to speak directly to the doctors of the American Medical Association since Ronald Reagan in 1983.
Obama will speak to the AMA.
The AMA had more members and a lot more clout in Reagan’s day. Despite the rise of specialty medical societies, the AMA remains the most powerful trade group for doctors. So Obama will take his health-reform roadshow to the AMA’s 158th annual meeting in Chicago on Monday.
What’s he going to say? Well, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters yesterday that Obama will tell the doctors that the current health care system is “unsustainable” and that reform needs to happen now. Obama is expected to explain what his plan for health care will mean for patients and their doctors. That last bit could prove particularly interesting.
As AHCJ president Trudy Lieberman asked in a recent blog post, “Is this the same old AMA opposing anything that even remotely looks, smells, or quacks like an entrée to national health insurance?” Journalists, she wrote, “should make it their business to find out.”
In response to aNew York Times story on AMA’s opposition to a public plan, AMA President Nancy H. Nielsen said in a statement that the group would consider “variations of a public plan that are currently under discussion in Congress.”
In the Columbia Journalism Review, Trudy Lieberman, president of AHCJ’s board of directors, notes that the mighty American Medical Association has started to throw its weight around in the reform arena and, to protect revenues, seems to be siding with the big insurers and pharmaceutical companies. It has been pushing for a universal coverage mandate without publicly funded options — at stance that looks mighty similar to those of its less popular allies. So far, though, the AMA has dodged the majority of the blame. Lieberman calls upon health care journalists to dig deeper into the AMA’s reform involvement and help publicize its role in the process.